The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain

The President’s Hat is the first book of Antoine Laurain’s that was translated from French into English by Gallic Books. It appears that three translators were used for the different voices.

Daniel Mercier voiced by Louise Rogers Lalaurie

Fanny Marquant and Bernard Lavallière voiced by Emily Boyce

Pierre Aslan voiced by  Jane Aitken

In February, Gallic Books sent me a copy of his second translation The Red Notebook, which I devoured immediately and adored. Click on the link to read my review.

Thanks to that review where I indicated a wish to read The President’s Hat, Owen at The Carrot Cake Diaries sent me his copy and I returned the favour by sending him one my all time favourites, Martin Booth’s The Industry of Souls.

The President’s Hat is just as brilliant in its light-hearted uplifting way. It is the story of what happens to the people beginning with Daniel Mercier who encounter a black hat with the letters F M embossed in gold lettering inside the rim, when it is left on a restaurant seat by the former French President François Mitterand. Daniel is the first person seized by a compulsion to covet the hat and wear it until he too will leave it behind and the adventure moves on to the next person.

black hat

Each person who encounters the hat, is touched by it sufficiently to act in a way that will have a significant impact on their lives, thus taking the reader on an entertaining journey across France and into Venice in the eighties via gifted storytelling.

Although he appears only very briefly in the story, it is in a way a tribute to the man who was a popular President in the 1980’s, who ruled from 1981 to 1995 and in his last address to the people said:

“I believe in the forces of the spirit, and I won’t leave you.”

He died one year later.

mitterrand tranquille

Impossible to put down, uplifting and a joy to read, it is wonderful to come across one of those ‘turn-to’ authors when in need of a literary pick-me-up or just a fun read!

16 thoughts on “The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain

    • I did Susan and I enjoyed it as much as The Red Notebook as well. I probably had more to say about The Red Notebook because of the reference to Patrick Modiano, and now that I think of it, both books are full of references to people, places, wines, and other cultural icons of Paris and France.

      Anyone who loves Paris and things French can’t go wrong with Antoine Laurain’s books, they all leave you with plenty of discovering to do and much intrigue.

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      • So pleased that you liked it that I forgot to say how clever it was to use three translators to produce different voices for the characters’ stories. It worked beautifully.

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  1. I saw this reviewed in The Guardian I think when it came out and thought it sounded really good. I’ve read a couple of so-so reviews from other bloggers but glad to hear you enjoyed it, i will definitely get round to it soon I hope!

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    • This one and The Red Notebook are both great and perfect books to have to hand when in a reading slump or lacking concentration. These books should be profiled in that encyclopedia of reading recommendations The Novel Cure!

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  2. Like mushypeasonearth I remember reading a review of The P’s Hat and liking the sound of it; I don’t read much modern fiction in translation – yet another gap to fill! Thanks for reminding me of this – must try to get it on the list TBR. Sounds a little similar in structure to La ronde, perhaps…

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  3. I loved the President’s Hat and am incredible jealous that you received an early copy of The Red Notebook. I’m on an eternal waiting list for a copy from my library. They are incredibly wonderful stories though.

    I can recommend a couple of books to tag along with these: My Wishlist (Gregoire Delacourt) and All My Friends (Marie N’Diaye). Happy reading!

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  4. Pingback: Top Reads 2015 | Word by Word

  5. Pingback: 10 Great Books That Transport You Around the World #BookLoversDay – Word by Word

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